Mesa Verde Vandalized in the Name of ‘Asatru’

The official Facebook account for Mesa Verde National Park posted on July 23, the following statement and images of recent vandalism. One of the many desecrations to this ancient site is graffiti depicting Thor’s Hammer, accompanied by text that spells out the word ‘Asatru.’

 

As the summer progresses and visitation increases, we are seeing more and more evidence of graffiti, vandalization, and intentional littering throughout Mesa Verde National Park. This comes in many forms and across many surfaces. In one of the pictures below, you’ll see names rubbed onto the sandstone using prehistoric charcoal which a visitor dug up in an archaeological site along the Petroglyph Point Trail. Not only did this/these individuals vandalize the cliff side, they destroyed archaeological artifacts to do so.
The purpose of the National Park Service is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. Please help us in this effort and refrain from creating graffiti, intentionally littering, causing damage to or otherwise disturbing the landscape in all National Parks. If you see others engaging in any of these acts, please report this activity to the nearest Park Ranger or to staff in the Chief Ranger’s Office located next to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum.
Despite the fact that this is the mission and purpose of the National Park Service, we are seeing a growing number of instances of intentional damage throughout NPS sites every year. Why do you think people do this? What do you think the intent is and what can we do as a culture to cut down on these occurrences?
Thank you to all of the visitors who do visit with respect. Let us all leave no trace, educate others about proper stewardship of public lands, and enjoy these wonderful landscapes as they are.

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Graffiti found etched in sandstone boulders on the Knife Edge Trail, located near Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park.

This infuriates me. Only nithlings are so ignorantly insecure as to destroy cultural heritage, regardless of its origin. This is our human history, and belongs to us all. This act is as heinous as Christians destroying our holy sites. As abominable as the Nazi’s burning books, and is nothing more than the act of a small-minded peon, who should be outcast from the community as a whole.

There are many runestones found in Denmark and Sweden, bearing both a depiction of mjollnir (Thor’s Hammer) but also an inscription entreating Thor to hallow or protect. This symbol is both a symbol of protection and consecration. Also it is used today by those who worship this God, be they go by the name of Asatru, Heathen, Northern Tradition Polytheist, etc.  To use His symbol in such a way is nothing but blatant disrespect for our God. For you have committed an act of defilement in His name, while also slandering us all. Shame on you nithling!

Vandalism does not in any way represent the ideals–summed up in the Nine Noble Virtues–of Asatru belief: courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self reliance, industriousness, perseverance. This was a national park, and a guest of this park, violated hospitality, and behaved most dishonorably. I doubt that any of my circle of friends would have someone like this in their own circle, but if you have knowledge of the perpetrator of this atrocity, please contact the authorities. For does the Havamal 127 not say “If aware that another is wicked, say so.”

May Tyr bless the Federal Authorities & Criminal Investigators so they may find the cretin, and s/he is punished to the full extent of the law. May Thor bring down the hammer of His might, and smite the nithling!

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The Sacred and the Profane

Oh guys. The spiritual stupidity. I cannot even process an exchange I just had. 

Someone out of the blue reached out wanting me to “join forces” with them and “contribute” to their Wicans, Pagans, and Heathen RP. And no, I do not roleplay in any community anywhere online … so really I am utterly flabbergasted to have received the communication in the first place. *head desks*

For those who don’t know, RP stands for roleplay.

my response:

“That is counter to everything I stand for. Heathenry is about the sacred balance between humans and the numinous forces of the world: the Gods, the Vaettir, the Ancestors. Roleplay makes Them imaginary, makes Them not have power, and relegates Them to nothing more than fantasy, trapped in the cage formed by mortal minds. The Regin (Holy Powers) live and have power beyond our ken. So no, I have no interest in joining forces with you and your make pretend world that is a profanity to those powers.”

*bangs head on desk repeatedly*

This shouldn’t have to be said!

Musings on Odin’s Ravens and Wolves

Among the many descriptions of Odin, we see that he is described as having a pair of ravens, and a pair of wolves.


Thanks to some nature specials I watched recently when I couldn’t sleep, I discovered that ravens tend to mate for life. While pre-adult ravens may live and work together in groups with other ravens, when they hit adult status about 4 years into their 40 year or so life-span they then become extremely territorial. The only time adult ravens will be seen together (peaceably) out in nature (be it the woodlands or the urban jungle) is when they are a mated pair. 

This makes me wonder if Odin’s ravens Hugin (Thought) and Munin (memory) may in fact be a mated pair.


Another interesting tidbit, is that while wolves may exist in packs, they (like ravens) also tend to mate for life. And the only animal besides a fellow pack-mate that they would share their food with is a raven. Could Odin’s wolves, Geri and Freki, also be a mated pair? Or are they just packmates?

Design by Urban Threads

In the wild wolves and ravens have long been coexisting together by feasting from the same prey. But more than that they have been cooperating: “noted raven researcher Bernd Heinrich has suggested that ravens evolved with wolves, with ravens possibly leading wolves to moose or caribou, and then later feeding upon the carcasses torn open by wolves.


In Dr. L. David Mech’s ‘The Wolf: The Ecology and Behaviour of an Endangered Species’ he states: “It appears that the wolf and the raven have reached an adjustment in their relationships such that each creature is rewarded in some way by the presence of the other and that each is fully aware of the other’s capabilities.”

Even beyond just cooperating for food, wolves and ravens are known to play together too. 

While most of my musings in regard to heathen cosmology is speculation, it does prove to my mind one point: that these ancient peoples were far more aware of the natural order of the world and observations of those items, than we tend to be today.

So, what do you think about these possibilities? Are Odin’s ravens and wolves, mated pairs or not? Please share your thoughts below!

Northern Tradition Musings on Memorial Day [Redux]

For those of us who are so lucky, we have a lovely three-day weekend before us. Memorial Day is far more than an occasion to exercise your checkbook (or should I say debit card swipe) in pursuit of retail bargains. Rather it is a holiday rooted in American history that has shifted overtime in the American consciousness, and yet it is also a holiday that many in the Northern Tradition have taken to claim as their own.


Memorial Day is a U.S. national holiday. The official birthplace of Memorial Day is in Waterloo, New York, which since 1866 has annually observed the holiday of decorating the war dead in their nearby cemetery. The original holiday was known as Decoration Day, when local communities would visit their grave yards and decorate the graves of soldiers who had died in battle. It began first to honor Union Soldiers who had died in the course of the American Civil War. After the First World War the holiday was expanded to include the honoring of any military man or woman who died in battle. Today the holiday is also used to not only honor those who died in military combat, but also to pay respect to those who served in the military but either died later from injuries received in combat but were removed from the field of contention, or those who died after leaving the military service.

In the Northern Tradition, respect for the comitatus (war-band) and the warrior cultus is well documented. Even people unfamiliar with the vast histories and stories of our lore are usually familiar with the more popular aspects of this literature like the later occurring story of Beowulf. Let’s face it, this tale has been adapted to cinema numerous times, has become an aspect of popular culture in its modern adaptations. Many of us read it in school as part of our core curriculum as a classic and early example of English literature along the likes of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Beyond the reverence of the war band, we also know the importance of the ancestors to the Northern Tradition. We have evidence in surviving lore of religious rituals performed to honor the ancestors: the disir and the alfar*. One of these rituals was known as disablot. In ancient Sweden it was held near the Vernal Equinox, in other areas it was held at Winter Nights. So the timing of the celebration varied.

The respect that those of the Northern Tradition have for the military can be seen in the wide variety of programs out there supporting the military community: including the Open Halls Project (and it’s also on Facebook), free hammers via The Mjolnir Project (currently suspended due to a backlog), for years Heathens fought to have symbols of our faith approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs for use on soldiers tombstones, a journey which took years to come to fruition: this spanned from a rally July 4, 2007 on the national mall in Washington, D.C. to get both the pentacle and the hammer as approved symbols for military tombstones, and in 2013 the Thor’s Hammer symbol finally was finally approved.

Others of us have also personally donated to service men and women. I know of variouspagan and Northern Tradition authors who have donated books to various military circles. I have sent off care-packages of altar items to the Bagram Pagan Open Circle, and sent items off to the Wiccan group Circle Sanctuary’s Operation Circle Care. I always offer Free Sigdrifa’s Prayer Bookmarks to American pagan and polytheist veterans and current active duty soldiers.

If you ask most Americans to explain the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the sad and simple fact is that most can’t. The two days have slowly morphed over time into a seeming amalgam of sameness. Veterans Day is intended to specifically honor those veterans of military service who are still alive. This confusion can even be seen mirrored in the Asatru community.

The Asatru Alliance, has taken Veteran’s Day and recycled it as the Feast of the Einherjar, which like Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day is a solely modern invention–not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with this. Einherjar is a term used to specifically refer to the battle dead escorted by the Valkyries to Odin’s hall Valhalla. Now since I’m not a member of the AA, I don’t know what their motivation was in the choosing of this date for this invented festivity. Perhaps since May and June already had traditional rituals associated with those months (Walpurgis and Litha respectively), they were looking for something that seemed appropriate to a heathen religious viewpoint to place into the month of November.

Regardless of the AA’s motivations for associating this feast with Veteran’s Day, the simple fact remains that like the larger mainstream American culture, many in the smaller Asatru religion also confuse the true meaning of Memorial and Veteran’s Day.

Of course, just as words can shift meaning over time influenced by the culture that uses them, so to can holidays. Today while Memorial Day still honors the war dead, has slowly shifted in the American consciousness to become this vast amalgam Memorial Day/Veteran’s Day celebration, as well as a day like El dia de los muertos where families may also tend to other graves regardless of military service to the persons resting therein.

Some of the Northern Tradition take this more all-inclusive approach to this holiday. Others opt to honor the war dead at Veteran’s Day instead, and a few of us (like me) make it a point to honor the war dead at Memorial Day. In my case I specifically look to my own line and those who served there. My grandfather who was a chief petty officer in the Navy for the first great war, my Uncles who served in World War II or in Vietnam… to my great-grand father who served in the Confederacy and as my late grandmother told it “even after losing an arm to them, he never asked those ‘damn yankees’ for a thing!”

Regardless of when people opt to honor the war dead, I believe it’s important that sometime during the year you do take the opportunity to honor them. These can be both your ancestors, but also just dead soldiers known and unknown. ‘Texatru’ that rare breed of Asatru who happen to hail from Texas and LOVE being Texans can be just as patriotic about the Lone Star State as they are patriotically American; They have a tendency to give a shout out to Daniel Boone on the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo. Just as some Anglo-Saxon Heathens may honor the late Mercian king Penda.

Of course, it should go without saying that honoring the war dead is something you should do as part of a periodically regular routine of respecting your ancestors. Sure just as we had disablot to honor the mothers in ancient times (and today)… it’s certainly not a foreign concept that we at times of our own determination have ‘themed’ celebrations to pay homage to the different types of dead.

So somewhere between the 50% off sales, the picnics and bar-b-q, I’d suggest taking a page from our Presidents who tend to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown solider in Robert E. Lee’s former residence reinvented as Arlington National Cemetery. Take the time out to honor the war dead and those who have served the military in ways that enabled you to the type of life and freedoms we now enjoy. Don’t be shy in just honoring your war dead, but if you’re lucky to live near a veteran’s specific cemetery, or even a normal cemetery with a veteran’s section… why not pick up some flowers, and decorate each grave with a single bloom. And don’t feel that you HAVE to go to a cemetery to honor the war dead.

If you don’t live near the grave of your war dead, you can always put out pictures on your ancestral altar of them, or items that remind you of them. If you don’t have pictures, you can also write out their names and place them into a small basket or trinket box on the altar. You can set out offerings of items they enjoyed in life perhaps tobacco, cornbread, steak, etc. My uncle had proclivities for candy corn, popcorn, peanut butter, Diet Coke, and Mr. Goodbars. He always had a deck of cards lying around too. So when I’m honoring him it’s not uncommon for me to incorporate all or some of those items into the ancestral altar.

But to get your creative juices flowing, here is one of my prayers for Memorial Day:

If not for my ancestors,
if not for those soldiers who fought for my current government,
or those who fought to defend the multitude of cultures of all my ancestors… 
I would not exist.

I would not know the life that I know.

My life has been hallowed in their struggles to survive,
to make the world renewed,
invigorated,
Better than it was before.

To these men and women I owe a debt of gratitude,
and at this time,
and at this hour,
And for all time evermore I hail thee–
those who fought,
who persisted,
who endured,
who took up arms and when none were in grasp fought with bare hands–
your sacrifice is remembered,
your devotion honored.

You did not die in vain,
and the promise of your efforts still bears fruit.

May it follow like sweet reverb to future generations who will hear the call, and add their own harmonies to strengthen it.
So do I hail!

Honoring Our Mothers [Redux]

Sometimes the perception other pagans and polytheists have of the Northern Tradition is that we are focused on a patriarchal system due to the overwhelming popularity of Gods like Odin and Thor, but the truth is simply that all powers, or Regin, were respected and honored, including those mothering and protective spirits or wights known as the Disir.

When looking up the etymology and usage of the word wight, I discovered it was used not just to describe land wights, but also for ancestral spirits, and the Gods and Goddesses, and even the genius loci. So it was an umbrella term used to describe anything that was numinous, or not of this world and therefore not wholy human.

I think in the early foundations of the religious practices, there wasn’t a great deal of distinction made between the types, anything that was supernatural fit as they all held sacred roles we mortals should respect and there were regional variances and regional preferences for each geo-socio-politico community. Therefore it is my belief that overtime more of a tiered, hierarchical structure emerged in human civilization, and thus we begin to see more of a separation of ‘ranks and tiers’ between Gods, the ancestors, the land wights, etc.

In Guðrúnarkviða, the text calls the valkyries “Odin’s Disir”, and we also see in Reginsmal and Krakumal more connections to the valkyries. We see in another text, Atlamál, that they are specifically referred to as being dead women. 

In Hamðismál and Grimnismal the disir appear to be synonymous with the Norns. All throughout the lands of ancient Germania the archaelogical record is full of more than 1000 found votive stones and altars erected to the Matronae (The Mothers), and within that vast number we find groupings of stones in specific regions to specific deities, such as those honoring the Austriahenae. Suggesting, and to my mind proving, that there existed genius loci or a region specific variety too. But as the term Matronae/Mothers alone suggests, they also have associations with fertility as well.

As such, Goddesses, Norns, valkyries, genius loci, as well as female ancestors comprise the Disir, or Idis. While that can seem a bit overwhelming to wrap your mind around, at the end of the day the Disir embody the protective and beneficial female spirits that look after individuals, their families, and the tribe or community.

The Disir or mothers were so revered that they had their own celebrations within the Northern Tradition umbrella, with regional variance. The Anglo-Saxons had Modraniht (Mother’s Night) during December, the Swedes had Disting in February, yet texts like Víga-Glúms and
Hervavar show celebrations in the Autumn instead.

In modern times Northern Tradition polytheists will also use Mother’s Day as another opportunity to honor the Disir.

So on this Mother’s Day…

Let us honor our Mothers, who through joy and suffering endured so that their children, and their children’s children might not just survive, but thrive.

I call to our mothers, the light and the life bringers who have guided us from darkness onto the paths our ancestors have traveled, and now the paths we walk down.

All-mother Frigga I hail thee, and I thank thee. For the immeasurable blessings, your guidance and your wisdom. You see all things, even if I may not know them. May your counsel follow me into the year ahead and be the compass from which I navigate.

May the blessings of the Disir be upon you all.

Department of Defense Adds Heathen /Asatru Belief Code & Many others

This is great news for our men and women in the US military who fall under non-mainstream religious practices found under the pagan or polytheist umbrella, such as:

  1. AH – Heathen
  2. AN – Native American
  3. AY – Church of the Spiral Tree
  4. DA – Troth
  5. DK – Dianic Wicca
  6. DP – Sacred Well Congregation
  7. DU – Druid
  8. FD – Gardnerian Wicca
  9. FQ – Shaman
  10. FV – Seax Wicca
  11. FY – Asatru
  12. G3 – Pagan
  13. YW – Wicca
  14. YY – Magic and Spiritualist.

You can view a complete pdf copy of the official memo at the Open Halls website. 

The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach [Second Edition]

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I do not celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, which is a day of holy obligation for Catholics in Ireland (as well as revered by a few other Christian denominations). Why would I, a heathen, celebrate a 5th Century Saint whose mission in life was to turn pagans from their Gods and ancestral ways? If he lived today he’d be trying to convert me away from the Gods of my life as well.

For those with Irish ancestry who take this day to celebrate their ancestry, that is all to the good. But remember there is a difference between a drunken revelry of green beer, and the celebration of a vast rich culture. There is a difference in remembering your ancestors and laying out offerings, telling their stories, and hailing their names versus urinating on the sidewalk because you’re behaving as a drunken fool.

While there are many stories about Saint Patrick, the tale of him driving out the snakes is the most wide known. Of course it’s also clearly historically impossible as snakes haven’t inhabited Ireland since the last Ice Age. Since the last one concluded more than 10,000 years before Patrick was even born it’s a bit ridiculous to think he drove out animals that weren’t even there. But not only did this story appear very late (centuries after his death), there’s also a belief in some corners that the story was allegorical, and the snakes were symbolical representations for the ancient pagans.

Continue reading “The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach [Second Edition]”

Just Because You’re Asatru Doesn’t Mean You’re Going to Valhalla

One of the commonly misperpetuated beliefs of the Asatru afterlife is that the end goal is for us all to go to Valhalla. For these individuals that put such importance on the warrior aspects of our religion they overlook a couple of things. Foremost is that Freyja also had choice of the battle-slain, so if you qualified you may end up going to Her hall, and NOT Valhalla. Secondly, while warrior aspects and cultuses were present in antiquity, ultimately the ancient cultures were agriculturally derived. As such, life and the afterlife was more than about war, instead it was representative of the entire culture and worldview.

Unfortunately, much of the information on the afterlife was lost during the time of Christian conversion. However a few select references within our tradition remain about a number of Halls and Gods that play host to the dead, including: 

  • Hel – is both the name of the Goddess of the underworld who plays host to some of the dead, and is also the termreferring to the realm of the dead. Etymologically it’s believed this roots to simply the word for grave, as the place where the dead reside. It has no connotations of good or evil in and of itself. However within Hel there are 2 special subsections for where those who committed evil in life (oathbreakers, murders, etc.) were known to go: Nifolhel – where those who have committed evil go; Nastrond/possibly also Wyrmsele (in OE)- where the most evil are sent.
    • Battle-slain individuals (who were not evil) would go to – Odin’s Valhalla or Freyja’s Sessrumnir believed to be found in Fólkvangr.
    • We know that the hall Vingolf played host to the dead. But it’s unclear from the lore if this is another one of Odin’s Halls where those who are not battle-slain may go,  or it may also refer to a hall hosted by the Goddesses instead.
    • Those who die at sea are said to go to the Goddess Ran.
    • The Goddess Gefjon is said to play host to dead maidens.

    Free Bookmarks for Pagan / Polytheist US Military Active Duty & Veterans 

    Sigdrifa’s Prayer is a rare remnant in the Northern Tradition (historical cultures with a common worship to Odin/Woden), as it’s the only non-Christianized, complete prayer that we have from the historical sources. In it’s short simplicity, the prayer found in the Sigdrifumal is a microcosm of the vast macrocosm of Northern Tradition cosmology. It holds a very special place in my heart.


    HAIL TO THE DAY
    HAIL HIS SONS
    HAIL NIGHT AND HER DAUGHTER!
    GAZE ON US
    WITH LOVING EYES
    AND BRING US VICTORY.
    HAIL TO THE GODS
    AND THE GODDESSES
    HAIL, THE GENEROUS EARTH!
    GRANT US WISDOM
    AND ELOQUENT SPEECH
    AND HEALING ALL OUR LIVES.

    What many do not realize is that Day (or rather in the Old Norse Dagr) is a personification of the Day, and is the son of Nott, i.e. Night. And that they are separate and distinct from Sunna and Mani (our Goddess of the Sun, and God of the Moon).

    These few lines… is enough fodder for a short book – Sigdrifa’s Prayer: An Explanation & Exegesis, by fellow blogger Galina Krasskova.  Whether you are of the Northern Tradition, or just practice some other form of paganism the book is definitely recommended.

    Speaking as someone who is a modern day polytheist, we honor our Gods, our ancestors, the wights of land and water, as well as those who serve our communities. Respect for the military comitatus and cultus is a part of this. Our deities such as Odin, and Freyja were (and still are) honored for their great wisdom, ability with magic, connection to scholars and poetry; they were also worshipped for their roles connecting them to warriors too. 

    I have created bookmarks featuring this prayer, and would now like to make them available for free (yes, I’ll cover shipping costs as well) to any veteran or currently serving pagan or polytheist in the U.S. military.

    Please feel free to share this post. 


    The bookmarks themselves are 2 x 6 inches, with a UV glossy coat, featuring a double-sided full color design printed on nice cardstock. One side has the prayer in the original Old Norse, the other side has a modern translation of it.

    To Qualify:

    • Be Heathen (Asatru, Northern Tradition, Theodish, etc.), a polytheist, or pagan.
    • Be a veteran or currently serving member of the U.S. Military (any branch).
    • You must have a U.S. mailing address (an APO/FPO or similar address counts).

    To Request:

    Contact me via email (wyrddesigns at gmail dot com) or through private message on facebook (Wyrd Dottir). For privacy concerns, please do NOT make your requests (featuring your name and address)  in the comments of this post. Please note, that you may not receive acknowledgment of the request for several days as I’ll be busy with travel and family. When you do contact me please be sure to:

    Provide your:

    • Full Name
    • Complete Mailing Address where the bookmark(s) can be sent. If you give me an APO/FPO address, remember that all mail must be addressed to an individual soldier.
    • Email Address or FACEBOOK ID (whichever method you used to contact me so I can notify you once I’ve got the items in the mail, and I can make sure I don’t mix your request up with someone else of a potentially similar name).

    Quantity:

    I’m going to assume that I just need to send one of the bookmarks along. If you are requesting on behalf of a group, please indicate that clearly in your message to me and the number you’d like to request. I’ve sent a stack of the bookmarks before to some of the Pagan Circles at various bases. I’ve also donated stacks in the past to Circle Sanctuary’s program to send yuletide care-packages to those serving. 

    Offer only good while supplies last.


    I have worked with groups before who offered to sponsor a print run to give away these bookmarks at large public gatherings and events. I am open to such discussion, just drop me a line.

    Stop making jokes and glorifying Viking Rape

    This meme was going around, it irked me. So, I fixed it.

    Trust me as a woman who has to deal with the testerone ladened lets go a-Viking men (thankfully a minority, but majorly aggravating faction of the broader Asatru/Heathen/Northern Tradition community), this attitude gets old, and it is insulting. 

    In my decades in this community I’ve had men make rape threats or in poor taste Viking rape jokes, others who think my sole role in the community should be to fetch their drinks and spread my legs for their sexual gratification be I willing or no. In other words they want a wench from a pirate fantasy. 

    These men fail to realize that ours was and is a culture where women and men both wield power and import in a multiplicity of ways and circumstances.  
    The term Vikings can be confusing. Specifically it was a name given to those who did raid, enslave, rape and pillage other communities. But in the modern day we all to often refer to a vast umbrella of cultures as Vikings who would have viewed these ancient raiders with contempt. 

    Just because things were done in the past isn’t a reason to always do them today, and rape is wrong. Period. Alluding to the act in a *nudge nudge, wink wink, let’s be bros* manner is part of rape culture. 

    Rape Culture perpetuates frightening statistics like these:

    Think about that number. Think about the 6 women closest to you. You probably know many rape victims but don’t realize it.

    Millions of women in the United States have experienced rape.

    • As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape.5 

    Young women are especially at risk.

    • 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 90% of adult rape victims are female.6
    • Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.3
    • Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely.7

    Source: RAINN